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[UPDATE: This campain has SUCCEEDED, thank to generous support
from so many of you, and a supplementary fundraising campaign in
Indonesia. Boni, Ho & Titi are now the proud owners of their
very own humble homes in South Jakarta. This campaign will remain
active until November 30, and any new donations will go towards
buying basic furnishings, appliances and repairs for Boni, Ho
& Titi's new houses. We have discountinued the perks at this
stage, to avoid new admin work and extra international postal
costs. Any donations are deeply appreciated. Please see our last
update for the full story & photos!]
HAVE YOU EVER BOUGHT SOMEONE A HOUSE?
Neither have I. But I'm betting we can make a difference.
I've spent the past 6 years producing and directing a feature-length documentary called JALANAN. It’s a gritty but loving portrait of Indonesia as seen through the lives of three street musicians in the country’s teeming capital city, Jakarta.
Here's a glimpse:
There are many layers to JALANAN. It's a drama/comedy/romance/musical rolled into one. It's full of heartbreaking, hilarious, surprising moments, human drama, political critique, social irony and even a sudden electrical blackout.
Soon after I met and started working with Boni, Titi &
Ho, we became close friends. I quickly grew to admire their
cheeky personalities, their hopeful spirit and their good hearts. They
were living on the streets, struggling to hack out a basic living in
the margins of society, yet they didn’t act like victims or grow
bitter. They laugh more than most wealthy people I know. They
JALANAN is now being released to international festivals, we’ve already picked up our first four awards, and in April JALANAN became the first domestic documentary to open theatrically in Indonesia, lasting 34 consecutive days in cinemas in five major cities across the country. But from the very start it’s been really important to me that once the film is done, Boni, Titi & Ho don’t get left behind. JALANAN is their story, so the film is really theirs as much as mine. And far from being just the subjects of our movie, they’ve been my partners on a very long journey.
I tried to think how I could improve their lives through this film. To be sure, the awareness that it generates will benefit – at least in a small way – their immediate community, and perhaps even marginalized people in other places too. A film doesn’t fix lives, but it can bring acknowledgement, which for many of these people is all really all they ask.
But I still wanted to find a way of leaving them with a better life after the film than they had before it. While they will always be responsible for their fate and need to continue working hard and acting responsibly, I wanted to do my part in helping them move forward in life.
Assisting them financially seems logical, but I’ve learned through years of experimentation that handing them money – as in cash – never works. No matter how much you give, it’s gone two weeks later. And it’s not even their fault: as soon as they come into any sort of money, they're under intense pressure from family members, friends and neighbors to help them out. Indeed, in Indonesian culture it would be unthinkable not to.
So any money I give them inevitably ends up helping a cousin make payments on his motorbike, a neighbor fix her roof, or a sibling buy new clothing. None of this is bad, of course, but it meant that just days after a modest financial windfall, my buskers were no better off than they were before. I found this frustrating and wanted to find some form of assistance that would be for them, and wouldn’t just disappear.
I concluded that the best thing I can give them is a roof over their heads, not just in the form of shelter, but as permanent freedom from rent, debt, danger and homelessness.
So I’ve decided to try to buy them each a house. Something that will be theirs to keep. A place they can live or rent out or raise kids in. It won’t be large or fancy or even in a good neighborhood, because we won’t realistically be able to raise that kind of money. But Boni, Titi & Ho are humble individuals accustomed to living simply (Boni lived in a sewage tunnel for 10 years) so just owning a home, no matter how modest, will be a dream come true.
A house with a legitimate land certificate is also a much harder thing to take away from them. I plan to deposit the certificates with a third party (my Indonesian partner production company that also doubles as an evoronmental NGO) so that the buskers cannot be pushed into pawning off their property no matter how intense the pressure may be from those around them. With lives that are constantly in flux, I want their houses to be the one non-negotiable asset that stays with them forever.
A simple one-bedroom house in a low-income neighborhood in Jakarta will cost at least $15,000. So our overall fundraising target will be $50,000. But we're planning to fund half this amount from a concurrent domestic JALANAN fundraising campaign that allows our many Indonesian supporters to donate via local bank transfer, so the goal for the campaign here will be $25,000. I’m confident we will raise the matching half from the other fund.
“This sewage tunnel is a like a house, but it’s not a home. It’s an oasis for street kids. Carton people. We’re carton box people.”
- Boni in JALANAN
Can't you just help these people yourself?
I'm trying, but documentaries don't make money in Indonesia (well, WE actually made a BIT from our cinematic release, but the project still hasn't broken even). The phenomenon of ‘crowdfunding’ (as campaigns like this are known) is fast emerging as a popular method through which creative and social projects, and even serious businesses, are funded. Increasingly, social entrepreuners are finding it faster, more fulfilling and more beneficial to take projects straight to their intended audience – their viewers, readers, listeners, buyers, etc. This direct relationship benefits both the artist and the audience.
So how much are you esking me to donate?
Totally up to you. Anywhere from $1 to $5,000, depending on your mood & balance sheet.
$5 is what you spend on a beer most places these days. (Or half a beer in Australia.)
$15 is what a budget airline will charge you for a single check-in bag.
$25 is what you wasted to see 'Eat Pray Love' with your spouse, not including popcorn.
$50 is what you might spend on a nice dinner (take a DVD of JALANAN instead!)
And those are pretty routine expenses.
$1,000 is what a young couple (nearly broke graduate students in Seattle) just sent us after scraping together some extra donations from their friends, because they met Boni 5 years ago in Jaarta and decided they needed to help in a big way.
Whatever. So what's in this for me?
We're offering you a bunch of cool perks. Chiefly, if you donate $50 or more, you'll have booked yourself one of the first copies of JALANAN's official DVD before its release to the public!
But mostly, you’ll get a ton of satisfaction knowing you’ve supported three very special, talented individuals, and their families.
So what's this Fundrazr thing? Why aren't you using
Kickstarter, isn't that trendier?
Fundrazr is a better platform for flash campaigns: It pays out immediately, doesn't impose an all-or-nothing target, and doesn't have a culture of complicated rewards that the recipient must spend tons of time procuring after the money is raised. It's a simpler, quicker model. It's more like borrowing $20 off a friend but never paying them back, and then giving 7% of that to Fundrazr and PayPal. Pretty cool. Especially for Fundrazr and PayPal!
Wait, aren't there more pressing causes for me to support than
giving people free houses?
Probably! And I'd never overstate the importance of this fundraising drive, because I dislike the alarmist tone of many public support campaigns. We're not exactly saving lives with this project (although we're hoping to improve a few.) It is what it is, and nothing more. So if your funds are limited and you have an opportunity to contribute your $50 to a local humanitarian initiative or help a neighbor in need, we'd never ask to compete with that.
What happens once you reach the $25,000 target? Does the campaign end? Do you disappear to the Sychelles islands with three kilograms of cocaine, never to be heard from again?
When we reach this target we'll end the fundraising portion of this campaign and joyfully update you on that important milestone. But that's when the execution begins: In close consultation with Boni, Titi & Ho, we'll start looking for appropriate houses to buy them. We'll make sure this process is done transparently, with full receipts and complete notarized certification for the properties we buy. We'll document all of it and report back to our happy donors here.
Why doesn't this campaign have an alarmist deadline, you know, to add a sense of urgency and suspense?
Money like this can take a long time to raise. I'm not Oprah and I don't think I can make dreams happen instantaneously. So if it takes us 6 months or even a year or two to raise these funds, that's fine. I'm playing the long game for Boni, Titi & Ho, not trying to dazzle them. And they know this.
This project sounds very cool. I'm sold. How do I donate?
You can easily support us by clicking on the big orange CONTRIBUTE button at the top right of this screen. You can use your credit card (see next paragraph*) or your PayPal.
*NOTE: To pay with a credit card, click the CONTRIBUTE button and then click the 'Pay With Paypal' button (even though you aren't paying with a PayPal). It will open a window, and toward the bottom of that window you will see an option: 'Pay As Guest'. Click that, and it will open a credit card payment window. Totally non-intuitive (hello Fundrazr people, can you make this a bit clearer?) but it works if you do that.
Do you promise that donating will make me feel good about
Yes, it will leave you feeling proud and warm and fuzzy inside.
Should I share this page with friends, or keep it a
You should share it, please.
I've donated $50, WHEN WILL I GET MY JALANAN
We'd love to send it to you right away, but since JALANAN is still on the international film festival circuit, we're obligated to hold back on releasing the DVD for a few more months. We plan to produce the first DVDs (exclusively for you, our Fundrazr supporters!) in September 2014, and mail them out to you right after that. We guarantee you'll be the first to hold an official JALANAN DVD in your hands, and we appreciate your patience!
I'm so intrigued by this project, and this endless FAQ section isn't long enough. Where can I see & read more?
Check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/JalananMovie
And our website: www.jalananmovie.com
And our travel blog, JALANAN JOURNEY
Oh, and we're on Twitter: @JalananMovie
And wait - we're even on Instagram: Instagram @JalananMovie
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